The latest iteration of Apple's streaming box supports 4K resolutions and HDR lighting.
What is Apple TV 4K?
Announced at Apple's September 2017 Keynote event, Apple TV 4K is the latest iteration of Apple's popular set-top box. Like previous Apple TV devices, Apple TV 4K is capable of streaming video, audio and images from services like Netflix and Apple Music as well as from other iOS devices. Where Apple TV 4K differs from its predecessors is in its support for 4K content, with the ability to display videos and images in resolutions up to 2160p on compatible TVs over HDMI.
Apple TV 4K also boasts support for HDR (High Dynamic Range) lighting, implementing both the HDR10 and Dolby Vision standards via its new A10X Fusion processor - the same chip that currently powers the iPad Pro.
On top of streaming content from online services, Apple TV 4K can display photos and videos from your iCloud account, as well as stream media locally using AirPlay from your iPhone or iPad. When AirPlay 2 releases in late 2017, Apple TV 4K will also be able to control AirPlay 2-compatible speakers for wireless audio playback around your house.
Apple has also announced that its TV app will be coming to Australia with the Apple TV 4K. Distinct from the Apple TV platform, the TV app (which also runs on compatible iPhone and iPad devices) allows for quick, easy and searchable access to catch-up and on-demand streaming platforms. At its launch event, logos for 9NOW, tenplay, ABC iView, Plus7 and SBS on Demand were clearly visible, indicating that those services should be compatible with the TV app on Apple TV 4K.
For lovers of home automation, Apple TV 4K can act as the central hub for your smart home. With the Home app available on tvOS, Apple TV 4K can control any HomeKit-enabled smart device in your house. This allows you to ask Siri to change the temperature on your thermostat, turn your lights on or display the surveillance feed from your smart security cameras. If you leave your Apple TV 4K on and connected to your Wi-Fi, you can even remotely control your smart home devices while you're out and about from your iPhone.
As with earlier Apple TV models, Apple TV 4K requires a constant Internet connection to stream online content and make use of Siri. Without an internet connection, the only content it can access would be any shared content sitting on compatible devices such as Mac computers on the same local network.
How do I find 4K content?
Along with Apple TV 4K, Apple has updated Siri to be smarter about finding 4K-compatible content. By asking Siri to "show me movies in 4K", Siri will search through your apps and media library for movies that will take full advantage of Apple TV 4K's higher resolution.
What about my old HD content?
4K content isn't as common as HD yet, but Apple TV 4K addresses that with its 4K video scaler, which upscales standard 1080p content to look crisper on 4K TVs. While HD content won't ever look as good as 4K, this does ensure that you get a better image than you would through a standard HD stream.
If you have purchased HD movies through iTunes in the past, Apple indicates that it will provide a 4K version of that content to you at no additional charge. For new titles, there will be no pricing difference between 4K and HD versions of movies or TV shows you purchase, which is a significant point of difference for the platform from competitors such as Google Play.
What media formats does Apple TV 4K support?
Apple TV 4K is capable of playing a wide variety of media formats at resolutions up to 4K. Here's the breakdown:
- H.264 up to 2160p at 60fps, with support for Main/Main 10 profile
- HEVC Dolby Vision (Profile 5)/HDR10 (Main 10 profile), up to 2160p
- H.264 Baseline Profile 3.0 or below with AAC-L audio at 160Kbps per channel. Maximum 48kHz stereo audio in .m4v, .mov and .mp4 formats
- MPEG-4 up to 2.5Mbps at 640 x 480, 30fps. Audio support for AAC-L at 160Kbps per channel, 48kHz, .m4v, .mov and .mp4 formats
- MP3 (16-320Kbps)
- MP3 variable bit rate
- Apple lossless
- HE-AAC (version 1)
- AAC (16-320Kbps)
- Protected AAC
- Dolby Digital 5.1/7.1
How much does Apple TV 4K cost?
The 32GB model of Apple TV 4K is priced at $249, while the 64GB version is available for $279.
When will Apple TV 4K be available?
Apple TV 4K launches in Australia on 22 September 2017, with pre-orders commencing on 15 September 2017.
Apple TV 4K specs
- 98mm x 98mm x 35mm
- 425 grams
- Video Out
- 802.11ac with MIMO
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Gigabit Ethernet
- USB-C (for maintenance only)